Calcium Q & A
There is so much misleading information around us, and for the sake of making a profit we the consumers are very often taught to believe that we are giving our body what it needs when in fact we are actually doing little that is helpful to ourselves. Here we will clarify most of the misleading info about calcium.
Which type of Calcium is best?
Mineral supplements such as calcium are made from many different forms of the mineral. Common mineral forms are citrate, malate, gluconate, carbonate, bis-glycinate, micro-crystaline hydroxyapitate, and oxide.
What defines one form as being better than another is mainly it’s ability to be broken down during digestion small enough to cross cell walls and to be absorbed by the human body. The best forms for this are citrate, malate, and bis-glycinate (bis-glycinate is also referred to as chelate, or amino-acid chelate). These have the highest bio-availability (absorbability), and are so close to each other in this that they are all excellent choices.
It doesn’t pay to take other forms of calcium since the body will get limited or no access to the actual mineral. The same recommendation applies to the mineral Magnesium; citrate, malate, and bis-glycinate are best.
Minerals other than calcium may at times have benefits in other forms.
Why does it just say calcium on my bottle, and nothing else?
Better forms are always listed by manufacturers. If a supplement label does not list the form of its vitamins or minerals, then it contains the cheapest, and usually least absorbable form. In this case, calcium carbonate and magnesium oxide.
The most well known form of the mineral calcium and the one put to the most use is calcium carbonate (and of magnesium is magnesium oxide). When calcium and magnesium supplements were pioneered in the first half of the twentieth century these were the forms that were technologically available and used in supplements. It was considered groundbreaking for the industry at the time.
Nowadays, these two forms are considered ancient technology for supplements, as they are the poorest absorbed forms of each mineral respectively, by the human body. They are still used today because they are the cheapest for a manufacturer to purchase.
Does one form of calcium have more calcium than another?
The mineral level of calcium carbonate is the highest of all forms at about 40% elemental (meaning that 40% of calcium carbonate is pure calcium). The next nearest in elemental level is calcium citrate at about 20%.
However, since the carbonate form of calcium is so poorly absorbed by the human body, we’re not actually getting most of that calcium.
Calcium citrate on the other hand is so much more bio-available that even at 20% elemental, calcium citrate provides more calcium to the body than calcium carbonate at 40% elemental, and by a sizable margin.
Calcium malate is similar in elemental level to calcium citrate and may even be more bio-available than citrate.
A bis-glycinate (or amino acid chelate) is not a specific form of mineral but a mineral that has been bonded to an amino-acid which carries the mineral across the cell wall. (Amino-acids are the building blocks of protein, protein is what makes up our muscles and soft tissue).
Why is calcium carbonate so popular with manufacturers?
For starters, it’s the cheapest. Manufacturers also use calcium carbonate for another reason. It allows them to create a simple marketing ploy. Due to calcium carbonates high mineral level, a manufacturer can put 500 mg and sometimes up to 600 mg of this highly nonabsorbent calcium in one tablet. Who wouldn’t be enticed by the statement “you only need two tablets to get your daily dose of calcium?”..when the industry standard is four tablets.
Why are calcium and magnesium tablets always so big?
The problem lies in the fact that as minerals go calcium and magnesium are extremely bulky. They simply cannot be condensed enough to be very small. These mineral products are kept on the bigger side in order to minimize the number of tablets needed to get a required dose. As well, if they were to be divided up into multiple, smaller tablets, we would need to take twice as many tablets to get the recommended amounts of calcium, and magnesium. The problem then is that most people just won’t do it. We’ll take too few, or none, and either way not get the calcium amounts that our bodies need.
Should I take calcium with magnesium?
It’s best to take them together. The body needs both. It also needs to maintain calcium and magnesium in the blood stream in roughly a 2:1 ratio. We should have give or take two times the calcium than magnesium. They work in concert with one another for many functions of the body. For example, calcium is required/utilized by the body in order for us to contract our muscles (to use our muscles) and magnesium is necessary for muscle relaxation. One theory even says that if we take in only calcium, raising our calcium level without raising our magnesium level with it, then the body will release calcium from places (such as bone) and evacuate it out of the body in order to maintain the required 2:1 blood ratio, causing a net calcium loss.
Why do calcium supplements seem to always come with vitamin D3?
Vitamin D3 helps with the body’s ability to absorb the mineral calcium (not the other way around). Vitamin D3 is also essential for the body’s effective usage of calcium.
Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) is a synthetic version of the fat soluble vitamin-d and is utilized by plants. The natural version, vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), is what is utilized by animals and humans. Because it’s natural, the D3 form is not patentable. Drug companies (or anyone else) can patent D2, and have. It’s the reason D2 is what a pharmacy provides.
Can I get my calcium by eating antacid tablets like Tums?
These products use calcium carbonate which is extremely difficult for the body to absorb. This is even if taken with meals when there are digestive enzymes and gastric acid present to breakdown food and absorb nutrients. Moreover, people do not usually take Tums with meals but rather in-between meals as an antacid, when there is no digestion taking place. When taken this way there is actually no gain in calcium benefit to the body.
Calcium like this, that is not well-absorbed, can dilute stomach acid and inhibit digestion, resulting in more of the problem the antacid was originally taken to help. As well, this excess calcium in the blood due to poor absorption (instead of in the cells), can end up as plaque in our arteries. (Also, these antacid products contain lots of sugar, talc, mineral oil, synthetic dyes & artificial flavors.)
What are good food sources of Calcium?
Yogurt and other dairy products, sardines and salmon with bones, green leafy vegetables – the darker the green the better the source (eg. Spinich), fermented soy such as miso, natto, and tempeh, legumes (beans), nuts, broccoli and oranges.
How much calcium do I need?
The National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine recommendations in 2010 are:
Years of age ————– Calcium required per day
1-3 ——————————– 700 mg
4-8 ——————————- 1,000 mg
9-18 —————————— 1,800 mg
19-50 —————————– 1,000 mg
51 & older (women) —————- 1,200 mg
51 – 70 (men) ———————- 1,000 mg
71 – years ————————– 1,200 mg
Women 14 – 18 ——————— 1,300 mg
Women 19 – 50 ———————- 1,000 mg
Now you can not only get the calcium you need but the calcium your body can put to use.